Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr said it hasn’t always been easy for Kevin Durant to blend his talents on the team, and this was a harder season for the Finals MVP than his first with the Warriors.
“Last year was the honeymoon,” Kerr said Monday on the ESPN podcast The Lowe Post. “It seemed like he was engaged all year last season. Whereas this year everything was harder, everything was more difficult. Not only was that true as a group but for individuals.
“I thought it was a harder season for Kevin. Maybe the novelty of joining a new team had worn off. Maybe he won the Finals MVP and we won a championship and then you’re right back at it, and it’s like, ‘Oh wait, now you’ve got to climb the mountain again,’ it doesn’t end.”
Kerr acknowledged that there was sometimes a stylistic conflict between Durant’s game and Stephen Curry‘s game, but said that there was never any tension between the two.
But Kerr said he had lunch right around the All-Star break to reconnect with Durant, who had been drifting, the coach said.
“It hasn’t always been easy for him — even though he makes it look easy — it hasn’t always been easy for him to blend into the team and blend his talents into the style that we have had here for many years,” Kerr said.
“Kevin is very vulnerable, I think it is one of his great qualities. He’s a real human being, he’s not like a machine, he’s vulnerable like we all are, what makes him coachable. But it also means that there are going to be some ups and downs and he’s going to have some angst, and if you don’t get that in the open you’re never going to get through it.”
Kerr said he had similar meetings with most of his players throughout the season. He said keeping players motivated and focused after winning championships can be difficult.
“I think maybe there’s a feeling with some guys that when you win a championship that solves everything but it doesn’t solve anything, ” he said. “It gives you a great moment and it gives you a ring and it gives you fodder for people’s talk about your legacy. What’s your legacy?
“But life goes on and you’ve got to get back up and keep doing it. It’s one of the reasons that it’s been difficult to do this four years in a row. Because you get to the top of the mountain and you’ve got to start all over again. It’s tough.”
Kerr said the year was difficult for him as a coach, too.
“Your voice gets old as a coach when you’re harping on the same stuff, and this was a tough year for us in terms of the basics,” he said. “I thought we had more mistakes this year than we have [had] in the past, and I don’t think the guys wanted to hear me every day pointing them out. But that’s my job and we had to get through that.”
Kerr said there would be significant changes to the Warriors’ roster next season, with a younger group behind his four All-Stars — Durant, Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green — and Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston.
“We had a lot of vets this year. I think you’ll see more youth and energy to help us get through all that,” Kerr said.
“We’re going to have to be very creative and we going to have pace ourselves again and hopefully everything comes together in the playoffs, but you never know.”